Influencer 101: A guideline for influencer marketing campaigns

Social media post example of influencer marketing

By Corie Fiebiger –  Communications Coordinator

More often than not, businesses and brands are turning to social media influencers to help spread their messages, gain awareness, and win over the masses. These pay-for-play personalities make it their jobs (literally) to make you happy and can change the way your business engages and interacts with potential customers. Successful social media campaigns must be a comprehensive mix of your personalized voice, authentic engagement, worthy visualsbranded and topical posts, and now influencer content. 

Relevant influencer content is great, but not all influencers create equal content. Here are some tips and tactics on what to look for when selecting the right influencer to meet your marketing goals.  

Create Campaign Goals & Targets  

Having a clear idea of your must-haves, required stats, and overall influencer objectives will help you understand the type of influencer you need and can keep you on track if you get overwhelmedNot everyone will be a fit, and it’s important to be particular.  

It will help to have campaign “must-haves” in place to help narrow down the sea of options at your fingertips. Are you looking for influencers in a particular geographic location? Do they meet your minimum follower counts and data markers? This could even be something as specific as what university they attend. 

If your campaign plans to use both paid and unpaid influencers, what are your musthave stats for both categories? Creating a list of influencer and campaign goals at the very beginning of your search will save you invaluable time.  

Find Your Influencers 

Though there might be a plethora of “perfect” people to choose from, finding the right influencer for your brand can be harder than you expect. There are numerous online tools and databases that can help you plug in requirements to find potential influencers. However, depending on the size of your company, brand or campaign, and therefore your budget, paying for influencer vetting software might not be an option. 

Even if you opt for one of these services, you may find yourself having to do additional vetting, as there is no software that can tell you that an influencer’s vibe and esthetic matches what you are looking for.  

If you are trying to build brand loyalty, then you will want to focus on influencers in the same genre as your brand. However, if you are trying to expand your brand awareness and build your audience, then trying out influencers within different categories will be important. For instance, a travel brand might seek out a lifestyle influencer to expand brand awareness by targeting yoga enthusiasts. Or a clothing brand might target a high-end fashion influencer to cement their brand’s reputation as trend setters in the fashion industry. 

One free yet timeconsuming way to find the right influencers for your campaign is by doing a simple search. Google is your best friend. A search for “top lifestyle influencers” delivers almost 24 million search results; each writer has a different opinion and has decided on the best influencers by looking through their own individual vetting lensesEach blog or article will have its best choices represented, so look at a few on a couple of lists to see which writer’s vision you most identify with. You may even find that there are influencers that are represented on multiple lists!  

There is a blog for every topic and an excess of writers to choose from. Another search that is helpful will be “top ____ blogs.” You will be hard pressed to find a blog that isn’t also tied to that blog’s specific social world. Depending on what you are looking for, and if you have the budget to support it, securing an influencer with a blog has its own benefits.  

Create Your Wish List 

You may feel overwhelmed by the large number of influencers to choose from. Staying organized and listing your favorites will be helpful, because this is where the real work and in-depth research begins. An easy place to start is with your must-haves and data dealbreakers. Look at their social sites and review their follower counts. This is an easy way to shorten your list.  

With that said, if you feel there is an influencer with amazing pictures, great content, and good engagement, but who doesn’t meet your minimum numbers, don’t discount them yet. You may find you have to readjust or re-evaluate your goals as you go along, especially if you have a very specific demographic. At the very least, these particular influencers might be a great way to get some free user-generated content that you can share on your own social channels.  

Vet Your Targets Against Your Criteria 

Another easy way to cut down your list is to consider the demographics and psychographics of the influencers you are vetting. Now that you have your list, it comes down to whether they represent who you are. 

Are they the right age, gender, geographic location, or does that matter? What are their interests and motivations and do those align with your product or brand values? Do they have previous sponsored content on their page?  

By looking through various influencer’s platforms, you will eventually get an idea of what you are looking for, whether that is a certain esthetic or something that will resonate with your already loyal following. Read their posts and study their digital habits; a simple “vibe check” can go a long way.  

More important questions to ask yourself: 

  • Are they relevant to your topics or brand? 
  • What is their credibility to products in your category? 
  • What is their sponsored engagement rate vs overall engagement rate? The only one that matters is sponsored engagement. 

There are currently over 570 million blogs out there and 86% of content makers use them, so it is more likely than not that your influencer will have this additional platform for you to utilize. With blogs I suggest looking at the esthetic and vibe. Does it look like someone threw together pictures of their family vacation on a WordPress template, or are there nicely organized sections and tabs to filter their content?  

Many blogs will offer media kits with extra information about their audience, previous branding sponsorships or partnerships, or how many subscribers they have to their newsletters. It is worth noting that previous sponsorships are great, but it will be important to ask what the success rate of that partnership was. Did they just make pretty pictures, or did they increase followers and sell product? 

It will also be helpful to know the blog’s unique visitors per month (UVPM) and domain authority (DA). These could also be featured on the blog. The DA is a search engine ranking score that is a measure of the site’s relevance to a subject area or industry and shows how successful a site is based upon search engine results. Generally anything over 50 is considered good. You can get this free overview of search engine performance from a software development company called Moz 

Budget and Negotiations 

You have your list, yay! Now it is actually time to reach out to your chosen influencers. After all of that time you spent on finding and vetting them, you want them to be a right fit and they want to be a right fit too.  

Just like your own “deal-breakers,” your budget may narrow down your list even further. Determining which one will offer the right results to fit your campaign will come down to feel and your marketing budget.  

Price tends to go up with the number of followers. If a blog post and newsletter mailing is part of your deal, the price can go even further. You may want to use paid influencers, unpaid influencers or both, depending on your budget and size of your campaign.  

Do some research online to find an example of the approximate influencer pricing for various types of campaigns. Many influencers who are trying to gain followers and popularity will work in exchange for product/experience, or whatever it is you are promoting. You can always ask them to do it for tradethe worst they can say is no.   

Online research should reveal the approximate influencer pricing for various types of campaign participation.

You’ve signed a contractnow what? 

Many times, companies will want a firm list of deliverables from their influencer. It is definitely okay to have a must-have shot list. If there is something you would like to feature, a certain product demonstrated, or event highlightedtell them. You are paying and they want you to be successful because it helps them to have successful content. 

Do nothowever, script their entire campaign. Give them creative prompts but not exact messages. Provide the message and vibe you are trying to communicate, but also give them some control and let them play to their strengths. They know their audience and what they will respond to, so work with them to decide the look of the posts and then let them do what they do best. Together, you may even go viral! 

Influencer marketing may not be right for every brand, but we find it to be an influential tool for brand awareness on specific campaigns. With a little time, clear idea of what you are looking for, the right tools for searching, vetting criteria and a contract in place, hiring the right influencers combined with unique and relevant curated content will help create a fully integrated marketing campaign.  

The best video conferencing software? It depends on what you have to say

By Shae Geary — Senior Communications Strategist

Now that most of us are working virtually, video conferencing has become the new normal. But not all video conferencing software is created equal or suits every purpose. As communicators, we know that the vessel used to communicate is just as important as what we are communicating. In that spirit, we’ve taken a look at four video conferencing software solutions with our best advice for when and how to use them. Full disclosure: This is not a comprehensive list of video conferencing apps, rather those with which we’ve had some personal experience or knowledge.

FaceTime Takes the Place of the Office Drop In

Video conferencing software hardly gets easier than Apple’s FaceTime. Platforms like FaceTime are great for quick check-ins with co-workers or clients. However, they often have limited capabilities for anything other than chatting. In the case of FaceTime, all participants have to have an iPhone or Mac. Some people also find FaceTime’s group chat distracting since faces zoom in and out depending on who is speaking.

Alternatives: Alternatives do exist for Windows and Android users. Facebook Messenger has a video chat option and is easy to use with people in your follower network. Google’s Duo works across Android and iOS devices and allows you to chat with up to 12 people. Subscribers to Slack also have the option of video chats.

GoToMeeting is Ideal for Team Meetings and Smaller Group Presentations of 250 or Fewer 

The team at (W)right On Communications has been using GoToMeeting video conferencing software on a fairly consistent basis. This is a paid platform, with a free 14-day trial, and has proven easy for our weekly company-wide team meetings and client partner meetings. Users have access to features such as screen share, text messaging with other participants and the option to highlight just the speaker on screen.

One feature especially useful is the choice of computer audio or audio via a dial-in phone conference line. In a household where several of us are using Wi-Fi bandwidth at the same time, the dial-in conference line allows you to continue to hear the conversation even when video may pause due to slow connection time. Another helpful feature is the personal join screen prompt. This provides you with the opportunity to adjust camera angle and background clutter before joining the call.

TIP: Find a list of video chat best practices in our blog post, “7 Tips for Pitching TV Reporters During the Coronavirus Outbreak”

Alternatives: Skype has many of the same functionalities and is free for up to 50 people to meet and collaborate. Microsoft Teams, which has video conference capabilities with Skype integration, is another alternative for those who use the Microsoft Office suite of software. G Suite users have free access to Google Meet, which supports multiple users and doesn’t require separate software installation.

Zoom Supports Large Group Presentations and Gatherings

Zoom has quickly emerged as the most popular video conferencing software. Quick growth has not come without controversy including security concerns (hello Zoombombing!) and allegations of sharing private user data with Facebook. Challenges aside, basic Zoom features can be used free of charge with paid plans offering enhanced video conferencing features.

While Zoom can be used for just about any purpose and has all the functions that you’d expect—shared screen, appointment setting and ability to invite people to chat on the fly—it has quickly become a standout for meetings and presentations to larger audiences. The video conferencing software offers a number of handy features for larger group conferences. Examples include non-verbal feedback (such as hand raising), screen annotating for both presenter and viewers and ability to record a session direct to your computer. I particularly like the virtual background option, so people don’t have to see that you are actually calling in from your bedroom!

For instance, check out these beautiful vineyard backgrounds from our client partner, Visit Napa Valley.

Invite Your Co-Workers to Happy Hour with Houseparty

Let’s be honest, all work and no play are no fun. When it’s time to just socialize with your team, Houseparty is where it’s at. This video conferencing app alerts you when friends are “in the house” and allows users to jump in and out of chats as desired. There are also some fun features like games, including Heads Up!, Quick Draw and trivia, so you’ll feel like you are at the local pub for happy hour!

Strengthening Connections in the ‘Stay Home’ Era

By Licia Walsworth — Communications Strategist

How businesses can adapt via the virtual world

Individuals and businesses alike are experiencing a profound shift in reality, with life feeling more and more like the plot of a novel or movie. Organizations have seen their entire workforces confined to their homes. Schools and universities stand vacant. Small business owners have no customers coming through their doors. Friends, colleagues, teammates, and extended family members suddenly find themselves isolated from one another.

But a remarkable thing happens when people are faced with a challenge: They become innovators, problem solvers, and out-of-the-box thinkers.

Physical Distancing – Not Social Distancing

Technology makes it possible to keep the economy moving. It enables us to remain connected in ways that would not have been conceivable just a decade ago. In a world where coworkers had typically been spending more time with one another on a weekly basis than with their own families, the virtual world is now providing people with a unique opportunity for valuable human interaction — on a personal level, as well as on a professional level. Companies are adapting to virtual team meetings and telecommuting on a grand scale. If carried out correctly, these shifts can result in a greater sense of engagement and self-worth on the part of employees.

Connecting online actually does more than keeping us connected. It is strengthening connections by creating more personal or intimate interactions than coworkers could ever have had before. On a video conference call, for instance, coworkers might glimpse one another’s kids, pets, and home-based work spaces. This levels the playing field in a new way; it makes everyone human and more than just a title or job description. This increases the emotional investment coworkers, managers and direct reports have in each other. The old adage stands true: You work harder for those you care about and those who you know care about you.

That quick knock on the door to ask a question or to chat briefly has been replaced by such platforms as Microsoft Teams or Slack. The ability to quickly bounce ideas back and forth without multiple emails or an extended meeting makes for more efficient communication and a valuable savings on time.

Business-to-client interactions have seen a dramatic change, too. Marketing messages are more mindful, taking on a human element over sales-driven campaigns, as businesses of all kinds recognize that everyone is living in a new state of reality. Communicating to your target audience may mean pulling back from your business-as-usual marketing, but it does not mean sacrificing your brand. As client and customer priorities change amid crisis, companies must take the time to coach them through this next phase — whether that means making sure a client’s business keeps running or reassuring a customer that you will be there for them through the thick and thin. Interactions in this new reality matter; relationships strengthened in a time of need will continue to prosper moving forward.

From Karate to Cake-Making

Communicating in new ways is forcing innovation everywhere. Karate instructors are using Zoom to hold virtual classes. Schoolteachers and principals are using Twitter to stream book read-alouds or to recite the Pledge of Allegiance first thing in the morning. Grandparents are sharing cake-baking lessons with their grandchildren via Google Duo. Maintaining that level of interaction with students, loved ones, and your community during this time is crucial.

Business owners at all levels can find similar ways of engaging their customer base, strengthening connections in the virtual world, in order to continue moving their work forward and ensure they remain financially stable. That does not mean that you need to push your products or take advantage of your customers during a difficult time; it means staying true to your brand and what you can do for your audience. Consider distance learning education companies that are sharing strategies and tools for free not only with teachers, but also with parents who now find themselves homeschooling. Airlines and hotels that are waiving change and cancellation fees for travelers. Keep your loyal customers and be an example of goodwill during a time of crisis.

This is the time for strengthening connections to push a heightened sense of community and trust, to serve as a resource to your clients, and be an example in the virtual age to your team.

Top 5 Social Media Tourism Trends for 2020

By Licia Walsworth — Communications Strategist

 

What do hospitality PR teams need to know about social media tourism trends for 2020? First, it starts with storytelling—or, more appropriately, story “selling.”

The San Diego Tourism Authority recently hosted a some social media gurus for a workshop on trends to leverage to get your business and brand the most exposure. The following 5 trends and tips topped their lists.

1) The WHY behind the WHAT

Go beyond storytelling and start “story selling.” That’s the key to increasing consumer awareness of and interest in your brand.
Story selling more actively engages them in what you have to offer because it appeals to their emotional needs—their desire to relax in that peaceful place, sip that craft cocktail or take advantage of that once-in-a-lifetime experience. That’s how you effectively motivate consumers to go to your hotel, eat in your restaurant, or explore your attraction. You make them want it, whether or not they are actively seeking it out. Immerse your audience in the “where” with your social media images, but make sure that your images show them the “why.”

2) Instagram: Forge a consistent brand presence

Instagram Stories stand out as the most economical platform remaining in advertising. Plus, they offer the “Swipe Up” feature, which allows you to share a link and drive the consumer exactly where you want them to go next.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself watching story after IG story, not realizing how much time has passed. Capitalize on that behavior — with a consistent style.

It’s not as difficult as you might think. You need no more than seven slides at a time. Just keep these simple tips in mind as you capture and share Stories:

  • Organization is key. Create a storyboard and timeline in advance. Plan exactly what you are going to post and the sequence or flow — with photos, hashtags, and phrases at the ready.
  • Know your brand templates down to the font, color palette, and backgrounds, and integrate them as you plan your content days, weeks, or even months ahead. The moment consumers glimpse your images, they should immediately recognize your brand.
  • Post a new Story only after the current one completes — and avoid sending followers from a serene beach to a noisy rollercoaster. Try to tell and share seamless Stories.
  • Craft ads that feel like Stories. Even when you are promoting a product or experience, you can keep the content entertaining and authentic so that the consumer won’t feel that you are “selling” and will be more open to your message. Make the message so appealing that they just have to learn more.

3) TikTok: Know your audience

If your key demographic is 16- to 24-year-olds, this is the medium for you.

This is not the kind of platform where your CEO will deliver a simple message about your brand. Posts require a sense of humor and a creative tack.

What’s recommended in this space? Use an influencer to help sell your brand, and a creative team to help show the fun side of your business. You won’t engage here with your audience, but it will give you brand recognition. Proceed with caution for now; the analytics provided aren’t yet 100% intuitive for determining ROI.

4) YouTube: The return of a classic

A resurgence in YouTube? That’s right.

Create a video — but have a hook to grab the audience right away. Skip the intro music and opening credits. Grab their attention from the first instant.

Teach and tell. Make viewers care about you and the information only you can provide. And don’t focus on the subscribers; focus on views. The more views you have, the more exposure. When the video is over, there’s no need to sign off, or roll credits. Simply lead to the next video and keep the consumer on the platform and your channel. The more times your video leads to another video, the more exposure you get. YouTube’s goal is to keep the viewer on their platform, so don’t even bother saying “visit, comment or subscribe.” Your target users — if they’re engaged in what you have to offer — are smart enough to find you.

P.S. YouTube, like IG, offers Stories. The main difference: YouTube Stories stay for seven days — not just 24 hours. Talk about the power of longevity. Use this feature to drive home what you are about. Create that sense of engagement that will have the consumer wanting to see what else you have to offer.

5) Mindshare: The power of listening

Mindshare media is gaining significant traction, too. People can engage in podcasts while driving, exercising, or folding laundry. The average listener will be on a podcast for 26 minutes. What other platform gives you that level of extended exposure? Google is starting to show podcasts in search results.

Start a show based on your area of expertise: whether that’s wine pairings, the best restaurants in the area, or how to tell when the high tides are coming in. The visitor to your city will want as much knowledge as they can get, so be the one giving it to them. Not to mention the platform is relatively inexpensive to use and an easy way to gain a great ROI.

Look at your next social media campaign: Have you hit all of these trends? Are you organizing content ahead of time? Are you engaging the consumer in a way that taps into their wants? Go outside of your comfort zone and try a different platform rather than relying on what you’ve used in the past. The only thing constant is change, so take this opportunity to see how these trends can work best for you. Remember to not just story tell, story SELL.

What Do Facebook’s Changes Mean for Businesses in 2018

Facebook changes featured image

 

By Julie Wright —President
Twitter: @juliewright


If you’re like most communicators, you engaged in some kind of 2018 planning and goal setting. And you probably worked with your social media team on measurable objectives for each platform, including Facebook, but then, on January 11, Facebook’s changes came down with a massive thud.

The social network announced it was changing the game. And, bam! You realized you needed to change your game too.

 “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

Not that organic reach for brands on Facebook hadn’t already fallen by half over the past three to four years. Smart and strategic communicators could still find ways to continue to drive engagement and ensure that, despite falling reach and lower and lower visibility in news feeds, their content was attracting engagement and staying on the good side of Facebook’s algorithm.

But that could be changing. Here we are entering 2018 with Facebook announcing that the paltry 2 to 6% reach averaged by brands (or Publishers, as Facebook calls them) is too high and degrading the news feed experience for real people. Going forward, Zuckerberg said, brand content will be further suppressed in news feeds while posts from friends and family will be given more visibility.

Clearly, the message is that Facebook is a pay to play platform for brands not unlike traditional media outlets.

So, where do Facebook’s changes leave organic content for brands?

DOWNLOAD: 8 Smart Ways Your Brand Can Adapt to Facebook’s Changes in 2018.

Unless it’s exceptionally engaging (think animals, kids, heroes and other phenoms, kickboxing octogenarians, etc.), your content may not be seen by sufficient numbers to justify the effort it took to create that content. Worse, if your content isn’t regularly engaging people, you’ll be digging yourself a deeper hole. It’s essential in 2018 to fully commit to quality over quantity in your Facebook strategy, if you haven’t already. 

Facebook Live videos are expected to remain a powerful engagement tool. Currently, when you launch a Facebook Live video stream, Facebook alerts your followers. So, this is definitely one tactic to embrace to raise your page’s visibility and share engaging content with more followers.

If you’re a manufacturer or a B2B company, it’s going to require a lot of creativity to keep your content engaging.

Nonprofits have a better shot because typically causes are more engaging. Expect to see more cause marketing partnerships between brands and nonprofits on social media in 2018.

If you’re a resort that can produce and share incredible experiences and travel ideas for your guests, you might break through by tapping into everyone’s desire for a great get away. But how many businesses have the time and resources to consistently pull together and pull off this kind of show stopping or heart rendering content?

The first rule of good communication has always been to know your audience. This will be truer than ever in 2018. What has resonated with your audience in the past? What are they struggling with? Excited by? Interested in? Mine your Facebook data and customer research for content ideas that you know will connect with your followers.

That said, all brands have promotional messages that they must distribute to show ROI on their social media investment, but just as with traditional media outlets, they’ll need to pay Facebook to deliver those messages to followers. That is the clearest impact of Facebook’s changes.

Facebook is completing its evolution from a social sharing platform to a paid advertising platform for brands and businesses. Plan to adjust your strategies in 2018 to succeed under this new reality. Tweet: Facebook is completing its evolution from a social sharing platform to a paid advertising platform for brands and businesses. Plan to adjust your strategies in 2018 to succeed under this new reality. https://ctt.ec/mwH93+

Looking back over the past six months at some of our client partners’ pages, we’ve seen a few trends worth noting. Our results will be different than yours, depending on your brand page or the variety of brand pages you manage. But this is an exercise every Facebook admin should do to get a clear handle on how their content has been performing in order to better leverage what works. Here are our findings and recommendations:

REACH

  • Our post with the greatest reach in 2017 featured a testimonial video message from a famous celebrity (i.e. an influencer). Prioritize influencer engagement on Facebook in 2018 to maintain or extend reach.
  • Other top posts by reach in 2017 were those that we tagged with other brands or real people. Connect your content to real people whether they’re employees, customers, donors, celebrities or community leaders. This will be a key strategy to ensure that your content is meaningful. It must feature real people and brand relationships and not simply be a brand billboard.
  • About half of all organic impressions were earned virally by people sharing our content. Put another way, for every 2 people that saw unpromoted content, a third person saw it on their friend’s page. In 2018, brands need  to post Facebook content that starts conversations and is worthy of sharing. Be careful not to ask for shares or comments! Facebook’s algorithm will punish posts that overtly ask “share this.”

COMMENTS

  • The posts with the greatest volume of comments were related to contests and sweepstakes. These were also boosted. Facebook’s algorithm didn’t punish our sweepstakes content but be careful. If you create contests on Facebook in 2018, be sure you comply with all rules and best practices. Create some value in the contest for true engagement (don’t ask followers to tag a friend or for one-word responses). This can be a fun way to engage with your followers and drive some of that meaningful interaction Mark Zuckerberg wants to see, if done right.
  • Other posts with a high volume of comments tended to appeal to followers’ nostalgia and encouraged them to share memories or personal details or stories. Drive conversations with your followers in 2018. Look for opportunities to start conversations. But don’t start a conversation at 5 p.m. and let comments go without a response until the next morning. The Facebook algorithm pays attention to how quickly your respond and rewards fast responses and exchanges in the comments.

PAID PROMOTION

  • Paid promotion generated quadruple the number of organic video views. If you’re going to put the time into creating videos for Facebook in 2018, plan to support them with paid promotion.
  • Paid promotion drove 40 percent more impressions than organic impressions. Continue to use boosting on Facebook in 2018 to add momentum to content that is already performing well. If you have an important message that you want your followers to get but that you don’t expect they’ll want to interact with, consider an advertisement instead. Dry and purely informational posts or announcements by brands will hurt their Facebook performance. Save those for advertisements or email campaigns.

What was your experience in 2017? And how are you preparing for Facebook’s changes in 2018? Share with us at @wrightoncomm or tag us with #WOCPR on Twitter. In addition to the ideas shared above, we’ve compiled a more detailed set of recommendations in our white paper on Facebook’s changes.

DOWNLOAD: 8 Smart Ways Your Brand Can Adapt to Facebook’s Changes in 2018.

This is a helpful tool for sharing with your team to get everyone on the same page and thinking creatively about your social media program in 2018.

B2B Integrated Marketing: 5 Step Foolproof Guide

B2B Integrated Marketing

By Chance Shay Director of B2B and Infrastructure Development

Twitter: @ChanceShay 


Marketing communications in silos doesn’t work. If your PR efforts aren’t aligned with your content marketing and your digital marketing is on a different frequency, you’re setting yourself up for a not-so-fun conversation with your CMO. In a time when the average attention span is eight seconds and where humans are producing the same amount of data in two days as was generated in all of human existence leading up to 2003, it’s easy to see why each individual marcomm channel is less effective in isolation.

But with a challenge comes an opportunity. By syncing up all of their efforts, marketers are able to make the overall impact of marcomm efforts far greater than their individual sums. This is integrated marketing.

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is the only marketing strategy that is effective in 2017. It optimizes the communication of a consistent message from a brand to stakeholders by integrating communication channels and harnessing the benefits of each channel, which amplifies their impact beyond what they could achieve individually.

The entertainment industry has done this for years. At Comic Con, you’ll see the same message about a new movie being promoted on advertisements (paid), conveyed during interviews and editorial stories (earned), used on social media (shared) and said during the panel discussion with the movie’s stars (owned).

B2B brands have to take this same approach, but with a few key changes. To help, we’ve put together a foolproof, five-step guide to help any B2B brand nail its integrated marketing plan.

1) Define the business objective

An obvious first step, but it’s essential that the integrated marketing flow from the brand’s overall business objective. Whether stealing market share or creating a new category, the brand’s big picture goal will drive everything from strategy to KPIs and execution.

2) Know thy audience

More than just understanding the type of business that’s a good fit for your service or product (i.e. a SMB in cleantech with $10-25 million in revenue), a brand must have a rich, granular picture of who is most likely to purchase their product and why. The “why” is important for establishing and framing the unique selling proposition for any good or service, but the “who” is the most important for structuring your IMC plan. Is your customer likely to be innovative or more risk adverse? What’s important to your customer in how they operate their business and the culture they create internally? Is a top tier trade outlet or a general news daily with huge name cachet more influential to them? For example, if the decision makers for your prospective customers are millennials, you’ll want to know they are 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites than older generations. That impacts strategy in a meaningful way, so get as holistic a view of your audience(s) as possible.

3) Set SMART communications goals that support the business objective

Like with most sound strategies, for IMC planning you must start with the end goal and work backward to develop a plan for how to get there. What is it – in a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time dimensioned way – that you’re wanting the plan to achieve. Is it to drive a 20 percent increase in free trial sign-ups? Is it to grow website traffic for key landing pages by 30 percent? At the end of the day, for B2B brands it all boils down to driving revenue. The marcomm component is meant to move new business prospects down the marketing funnel from being brand aware to being brand loyal. Setting SMART goals and KPIs for your integrated efforts will help ensure you’re on the right track.

4) Select your weapons of choice

Not all platforms and mediums are right for every brand. In some industries, trade shows have a higher demonstrated ROI than weekly vlogs on YouTube. For others, the best way to reach decision makers is on LinkedIn and not through content marketing. The first question to ask when determining where to focus marcomm resources is, “Where are my customers spending their time and how are they influenced?” Almost as important is asking yourself, “What channels allow me to showcase my brand’s strengths?” If your brand offers something innovative but a bit dense and niche, then Instagram as a platform would be challenging to generate traction. Instead, speaking opportunities at conferences where you (or your CMO) have more time to explain nuances would be more impactful.

Remember, you have all the PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned) channels at your disposal.

For Paid, consider if your audience is actively looking for your solution or if you have to be proactive in helping them realize they need your product or service. When thinking of earned coverage, would contributed by-lined articles support your communications goals or would an analyst evaluation be better? On Shared channels, selecting the platform must flow from determining the strategy for how social media will help reach the communications goal – whether by creating a community, showcasing thought leadership, engaging in the digital conversations prospective customers are having or otherwise.

Part of how IMC for B2B brands is different than for consumer brands is how owned content is leveraged. Owned content should be valuable to your customers and your customers’ customers. Your customers want to know you “get them,” but they also appreciate content that reinforces their value. The ROI is clear when you consider that B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. If your content is targeted, that increase in traffic means an increase in leads. Of course, that’s just one data set, but wouldn’t you like 300% of the traffic you’re getting now?

5) Use an umbrella to make it rain

Traditionally, an umbrella blocks the rain from hitting you. But for B2B brands, you need an umbrella that covers all of your IMC to bring in new business and make it rain. The umbrella, of course, is an overarching theme or idea that ties all of your marcomm efforts together. It could be owning a position or using some fun, quirky euphemism to convey the unique selling proposition of your product or reinforce a brand identity. This doesn’t mean that all efforts across all platforms need to look exactly the same. In fact, solid marcomm utilizes the most impactful features of each platform, but the umbrella campaign theme or concept keeps everything cohesive and consistent. When deciding an umbrella theme, think big picture about how it would translate across each of your decided platforms and whether it syncs with your strategy for how you intend to utilize each channel.

With audiences diversifying and a fragmented media landscape, there are no silver bullets for achieving communications goals. To be effective in moving the bottom line needle, communications – from advertising to PR, from social media to content marketing – need to be intentional in both strategy and timing. Check out a few ideas here, then follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to crushing the IMC plan and impressing your CMO.